Friday, March 6, 2009

A Certified Specimen

I called the Butterfly Pavilion at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History yesterday. I thought the facility would make a great home for March the butterfly. The flowers are always blooming, the atmosphere is constantly humid, and the butterfly life cycle is ongoing. March could flit and flutter alongside members of over 300 species of butterflies from all over the world. It can't get any better than that if you're a butterfly.

Here at the Virginia Dickerson townhome, all a butterfly gets is smushed-up fruit mashed in sugar water and a mesh cage to hang out in. There's fluttering room, sure, but no space to flit or fly. And definitely no blooming flowers.

I'm sure March is bored. After all, his purpose in this season of his life is to eat nectar, find a lady black swallowtail, mate, and fly. He can't do any of those things in the mesh butterfly house hanging in our kitchen window. I'm not even sure he's getting the correct food. I'm just guessing at what might be butterfly-palatable.

So I called the Smithsonian Butterfly Pavilion. I thought, "What a great homeschooling experience! We watched the caterpillar, cared for the chrysalis, and now we can release the butterfly--even though it emerged early." Cami asked who I was calling, and when I told her, her eyes lit up. She said, "So maybe we could go visit March?" I didn't have the heart to tell her that butterflies don't live very long, especially when they emerge before the last frost.

After I explained March's situation, a very nice young man at the Smithsonian put me on hold. He talked to one of the museum curators and came back with this answer: "We are unable to accept any butterfly specimen that hasn't been certified by the [butterfly-certifying agency name here]." I didn't hear the agency's name. My brain got snagged by the idea of a butterfly being certified.

I said, "Can you suggest somewhere else that might take this butterfly?"

He said, "Unfortunately, because your butterfly isn't a certified specimen, we, and any other Smithsonian facility, won't be able to accept it."

I'll let you ruminate on the spiritual metaphors present in this situation in the many comments you make about this post. In the meantime, the curator's advice was to simply release March.

It may seem silly to y'all, but I've been praying about this little butterfly all week. It's been too cold for people to be outside, much less butterflies. Here are the temperatures from the past five days:

March 1 Sunday 40° F 33° F
March 2 Monday 34° F 21° F (Don't forget the 6.5 inches of snow that fell!)
March 3 Tuesday 33° F 16° F
March 4 Wednesday 41° F 18° F
March 5 Thursday 52° F 25° F

March's situation indeed has rich spiritual metaphors , enough to distract me from the "main thing" God's been singing over me lately: "Just trust Me."

Watch what God's doing for March the butterfly and Candi the getting-better-at-it believer: the forecast temperatures for the next five days:

March 6 Friday 61° F 45° F
March 7 Saturday 72° F 49° F
March 8 Sunday 74° F 47° F (He saved the best weather for Church Day!)
March 9 Monday 63° F 40° F
March 10 Tuesday 54° F 38° F

Looks like perfect conditions to flit and fly.

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